Sunday, May 22, 2011

Imperial Aggression Major Threat to African Growth

Imperial aggression major threat to African growth

Friday, 20 May 2011 23:12
By Aguy. C Georgias
Zimbabwe Herald

After China's current phenomenal economic growth, that it is now the world's second largest economy after the US, it is believed the next 15 to 20 years will see Africa emerge as the "next frontier''.

Yet, if one looks at the state of affairs on the continent, this would seem, at face value, to be quite an elusive dream.

Not so anymore.

The widely held opinion, that Africa remains a hotbed of political and economic instability, is now making way - according to reputable research by internationally renowned business and economy think tanks - to a new thinking that because of its vast economic resources, Africa is the continent of the future.

There are positive numbers to support this view, based on independent research, that Africa's "trade turnover could have reached nearly US$400 billion'' by 2015 from the current US$ 129 billion, which itself represents a tenfold increase since 2000.

The Economist Intelligence Unit projects that Africa will record a growth rate of an average five percent for the next five years.

From about less than two percent of world foreign direct investment (FDI) at present, it is estimated by researchers that by 2015, FDI in Africa will be around US$40 billion.

There is more happening in Africa than just the widely held perception, fed by recent developments in Tunisia, Egypt, the Ivory Coast, Libya and many other political hotbeds, that Africa is incapable of achieving political and economic stability.

The "scramble'' for Africa's resources, particularly minerals, continues to spur economic growth against great odds.
China is currently leading the pack with FDI into Africa officially estimated at US$10 billion.

In a generally power-politic world, the stranglehold on Africa's economy by Western powers foisted by the imperialist colonial project is however set to remain for some time to come.

It can indeed be argued that Africa, by and large, is still hostage to the imperial powers, which paradoxically, remain the single most potent threat to Africa's political and economic development, independence and sovereignty.

And yet are the most interested in exploiting Africa's resources.

The meddling and interference by former colonial powers, unfortunately, is the debilitative impediment to Africa's demographic and indeed democratic transition.

How Africa responds to this new post-independence neo-colonial threat, a clear and present danger, is crucial to determining the continent's future.

This year alone there will be elections in about 17 African countries. Nigeria and Uganda have already held successful plebiscites, albeit with the usual murmurings and disgruntlement with the fairness of the polls from the losing parties.
That these elections are being held however is being seen as a positive development towards democratic transition in Africa.

But is it so, given the obvious interest and desire shown so far by the former colonial powers to influence, if not manipulate the outcomes of those elections?

The recent events in the Ivory Coast are a case in point, where in the event of disputed election results, one side, because it is preferred by the former colonial power France, is inauspiciously declared the winner.

Before the matter is settled by the AU, the UN, perhaps to confirm its portrayal, at least historically, as a vehicle for neo-colonial Western domination, facilitates the military overthrow of the sitting government by the opposition in a brutal military operation masterminded and backed by French legionnaires.

The question therefore arises: is it possible for the small nations of Africa to chart their own course to self-determination and sovereignty without hindrance by the imperial powers?

How is genuine democratic transition possible in Africa, given Western military and economic power and the apparent vested imperial interests based on a continuing desire to keep the continent in a state of neo-imperialist dependency?

What then are the implications for the UN, the AU, for the regional groupings, Sadc in particular and to be specific Zimbabwe?

What can the AU, as the anchor to pan-African ideals and objectives, do to face up to the new challenges?

These are the vexing questions for Africa, indeed for Zimbabwe, as the continent positions to become the new frontier for economic growth and investment.

Africa, it stands to reason, appears caught up in a conundrum, the quandary being either to acquiesce to the whims and caprices of the former colonial powers or to pursue the nationalist, pan-African liberation agenda of self-determination and sovereignty, an unaccepted notion most punishable by any means possible and expedient, without any qualms?

Economic considerations are frequently the driving force behind political decisions. It is easy to be sceptical of the AU, given its many doubters and critics.

When one looks at the continued conflicts, the on-going economic and social misery it is all too easy to get discouraged or to dismiss the AU as inadequate, misguided and impossibly idealistic.

It all goes to say the organisation must adapt to the rapidly changing international scene, because Africa cannot do without the AU.

Never has there been such a time as this when the need for African solidarity, collective action, clarity of vision, unity of purpose and resoluteness been so critical for the survival of the peoples of Africa, where the law of the jungle prevails and may be the history of the future that approximates what Shakespeare was perhaps imagining when he wrote in Hamlet of a tale that would ‘'harrow up thy soul, (and) freeze thy young blood.''

The new mantra for Africa, championed by the financially well resourced and western-backed "civil society'' is democratic transition, as the way out of the rut of dictatorship.

Its core content is the neo-liberal agenda couched in the pro-democracy themes of promoting human rights guarantees, freedom of expression and of association, rule of law, economic laissez-faire, property rights and so on.

No longer is emphasis placed on other matters to do with the promotion of the quality of human existence, or the encouragement of national self-determination, all core functions of the UN.

The traditional patterns of dominance are hardly challenged with the economic demands of the smaller and poorer nations of the south largely ignored.

It is ironic that many of the founding fathers of the AU faced the wrath of the different colonial regimes with extended periods of incarceration in political detention, without trial, for demanding the same freedoms now being foisted on the free and independent countries of Africa, with little or no regard to nationalistic sentiment and/or aspirations.

The legitimate needs of the African people, to be masters of their own destiny, to have ownership and control over the exploitation of the vast God-given natural endowments, from minerals, oil and gas to good climate and rich arid soils are being swept under. The overwhelming need to re-distribute wealth and redress the skewed colonial ownership patterns is being swept to the backwaters.

But can the warring, uncaring world continue unchanged? The role of the UN in the face of nuclear weapons, persistent poverty, widespread human rights violations, resource depletion and environmental degradation certainly speak of how indispensable the UN is.

It is so with other international organisations that have to do with the development and promotion of laws and norms to govern international relations, such as the AU.

The alternative is the current tendency to the law of the jungle, where all that matters most is a country's military and financial position.

To bring issues closer to home, the disputed elections in the Ivory Coast should be seen as instructive, to the UN, the AU, and Ecowas, and dare I say Sadc.

As has been rightly observed by former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki in article in the Zimbabwe Independent May 6-12 issue, "The tragic events in Ivory Coast have confirmed the marginalisation of the union (AU) in its ability to resolve the most important African challenges".

Mbeki is indignant, as he should be that "Instead, the AU has asserted the ability of the major powers to intervene to resolve these challenges by using their various capacities to legitimise their actions by persuading the United Nations to authorise their self-serving interventions.''

Mbeki is also uncharitable with the UN when he points to its deficiency on Africa when he says, "It will now be difficult (following the Ivory Coast fiasco) for the United Nations to convince Africans and the rest of the developing world that it is not a mere instrument in the hands of the world's major powers".

Coming late as it does, long after he has left office and thus less able to exert influence, Mbeki's observation is however helpful to my thesis, that the AU is in urgent need of critical review of its role in the face of the current onslaught on Africa; that it is imperative for a rethink by the new crop of African leaders to address and adopt pro-active strategy to counter the renewed onslaught on Africa by the imperial powers.

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we were unable to bring you the weekly column "The Other Side with Manheru". - Editor.

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